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Brittney Griner: Russian court hears appeal against nine-year prison sentence

American basketball star Brittney Griner has appealed her nine-year prison sentence in Russia for drug possession.

The two-time Olympic gold medalist was sentenced in August after vaping cartridges containing cannabis oil were allegedly found in her luggage at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport.

A Moscow regional court began hearing Griner’s appeal on Tuesday. The 32-year-old is appearing via video call from a detention center near Moscow.

His arrest in February came amid heightened tensions between Moscow and Washington, just days before Russia invaded Ukraine. The United States said the case was politically motivated.

Griner admitted she had the cans in her luggage but denied any criminal intent and said she was prescribed cannabis to treat the pain.

The basketball star’s lawyers also argued that his nine-year prison sentence was excessive.

Prior to her sentencing, US officials said Griner had been “wrongfully detained.” Russia has denied these allegations.

US State Department spokesman Ned Price said on Monday that Washington had had “active talks” with Moscow to free Griner and former US Marine Paul Whelan, who is serving a 16-year prison sentence after been convicted of espionage.

euronews Gt

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